What it's Like to Have Schizophrenia

Seeing the world differently is part of schizophrenia.
Seeing the world differently is part of schizophrenia. | Source

A Difficult First Step

I have schizophrenia, or schizo-affective disorder.

Schizophrenia: Hearing voices, having hallucinations, believing delusions, engaging in "wishful"/fantasy thinking, and what I call "becoming internal" which means getting wrapped up in a storyline in my head and interacting with voices I hear more than the outside world. Schizophrenia also includes a lack of insight, which means crazy happens.

Schizo-affective disorder: Having the above, but symptoms manifest depending on mood or emotion and can go away altogether.

I've had different diagnosis-es so we'll just go with Schizophrenia. I've debated about writing about this but thought I would for a couple of reasons:

  1. Get it off my chest/for myself in my recovery.
  2. To put some myths to rest.
  3. To support other schizophrenics out there, and/or friends/family members of schizophrenics.
  4. Honestly I am a little greedy and would like this article to earn me some money. I don't think that invalidates my message though. Sorry if you think this makes me a bad person.

This is a hard article to write for personal reasons, as I'm sure you can imagine. Not everyone in my life knows I have schizophrenia. Those who do have been nothing but supportive.

Different Personalities? No.

Some people think that having schizophrenia means that I must have different personalities inside me. That's a myth. Schizophrenia is all about the voices and/or hallucinations.

I'm on medication, but the kind I take doesn't get rid of the voices entirely. They are just quieter and feel more away from me than closer to me. There is medication that will silence the voices entirely, but my psychiatrist told me the side effects are greater. I opted for less side effects and quieter, occasional voices.

My Story

I was hit by a car in 2008. The back of my head cracked the lady's windshield and I suffered a concussion and a lot of aches and pains and soreness for quite some time. My neck vertebrae is still out of alignment. I have read that schizophrenia can follow head trauma, and this may be where my schizophrenia comes from. There may also be a genetic component, but I won't say more on that account.

I began hearing voices around 2009. It was startling and small at first, and then began to take over my life. I heard voices constantly that commented on me, my every choice, and that told me stories about my future that I found very interesting. It was entirely astonishing and unreal, but it was happening.

Somehow schizophrenics make illogical connections in their minds and begin believing things that don't make sense but then, somehow do. It's all hard to explain. But it happens, and it happened to me. There is something called "ideas of reference" which means when you hear something, even from a stranger, you interpret it right along with your own view and storyline, as though what this stranger was saying applies to you. I did a lot of that. I also thought things I saw like notes or letters during my day applied somehow ~ like they were signs ~ to me. This is another common thing that happens and can be seen in the movie A Beautiful Mind.

I thought people were coming to see me and would read all kinds of crazy things into normal behavior that I saw or heard around me.

Finding patterns others don't see creates a different reality in a schizophrenic brain.
Finding patterns others don't see creates a different reality in a schizophrenic brain. | Source

Damage

I'm not sure how it is for others with schizophrenia, but for me, I would have episodes where I end up running or standing somewhere with no good reason other than what was going on inside my head. I lost my usual sense of reality and was living internally, in my head, in a strange new world of what seemed like psychic reality. I didn't understand it but I changed a lot during the early stage of my disease, prior to my medication.

  • While I enjoyed running initially in small distances (I wrote about training for my first 5K), I began running excessively, not training for a race, but following a game in my head.
  • I ran late at night at odd hours that my family and friends thought were dangerous (not me then).
  • I lost a lot of weight and scared my family and friends.
  • I became internal rather than aware of others as I usually was.
  • I exhibited strange behavior, like standing in one place very still for hours, or leaving work and then coming back. This was all because of delusions and assumptions I made from bizarre connections I made in my head.
  • I didn't have good answers for the change in my behavior.
  • The voices sometimes caused me great anxiety, and I confided to my mother my strange fears ~ it was incredibly difficult to understand or explain them now, so I won't go into details, but I scared my mother who realized there was something wrong.

My parents had me hospitalized and I was put on medication. It hardly fazed me because I was so far in my delusions. I was hospitalized 4 more times and put on medication each time. The fourth time I realized I never wanted to be hospitalized again. But I didn't really believe I needed medication. Over time, not taking my medication, the voices came back steadily. Then it happened. I had a very bad episode and became very internal, not able to relate to my family on Father's Day, where I couldn't even say a word. I knew something was wrong and told my family the truth. They tried to get me help and not soon after I was again hospitalized, the 5th time. I was put again on medication and this time, with an understanding psychiatrist, who talked with me openly about everything related to my condition, I knew I needed to be on medication.


Changing from Delusional

Luckily I never became violent and luckily I am high functioning. I work and I write for Hubpages. I act in plays. I hang out with friends, watch movies, and love to read. Most people, if they did not see me when I was having an episode, would never guess that I am schizophrenic. Every day I work on the old habits of my delusions that I grew to believe and depend on, checking it against what I know reality is based on how I used to be prior to hearing voices, what I used to believe and know.

I would describe schizophrenia delusions like this: It's like taking your most dear inner dream, that you tell no one, and making it attainable through craziness and a reality that is all in your head. So it's a bit embarrassing to realize that it really is all in your head.

Schizophrenia is like seeing a whole new world within reality. That is how it feels at first.

Medication

Medication has enabled me to view my schizophrenia as with new eyes. Let's put it like that. Even if I occasionally hear voices, I'm able to stay in reality and not get sucked into an internal world where I lose my contact with others. I'm glad I don't need medication that causes a lot of side effects.

The path ahead is my own to make.
The path ahead is my own to make. | Source

Other Treatments

I've come across other treatments for schizophrenia in my online searches for more knowledge. I've heard of treatments that involved family and friends and therapy that work well without medication. There is also a voice-hearers group that is popular in the UK. I feel that it is an individual choice and that you have to look at what is being effective for you.

And Now...

I am fairly open about my schizophrenia with those I've gotten to know well. I'm able to work and know I must take medication or I risk having another bad episode, which I don't want. My family and friends are very supportive, and for the most part, I forget I have schizophrenia. I'm able to look back over my last few years with understanding.

More by this Author


Comments or Questions about What it's Like to Have Schizophrenia 48 comments

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

Thank you for sharing this valuable information with us. I am glad you are getting the treatment that you need.


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 4 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Wow, carozy. I am amazed at your openness and candor regarding your illness. In fact, this hub has inspired me to write a Hub about my own mental health issue(s).

I have written much about addiction and alcoholism (which I believe are secondary, or maladaptive behaviors in response to mental health issues), but have never openly addressed my actual diagnoses of bi-polar and GAD, SAD, and others.

Not sure when I'll do this, but thank you for your honesty!

Laurel


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

It must be hard living through life like this. I'm glad that your treatment is working for you. I admire your strength and resilience.


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks Laurel. I think being open about it helps me overcome it in a way. Not that I go around telling people all the time, but I feel more confident in myself by not treating it as a secret that must be hid. Good luck with your struggles, I hope you find what you need to cope well.


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks jpcmc. It's funny that the times when my life became a mess because of schizophrenia, I was in such a different place that it barely affected me. However, over time, with medication and the support of friends, family, and therapy groups, I can look back and see what damage it caused me in my life. Wanting to combat that is what keeps me open about it and also honest to myself that I need the medication. Anyway, thanks for stopping by. :)


Rfordin profile image

Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

Good for you! It takes a braver soul to share their experience with mental illness as there is still some stigma assocaited with it simply from people lack of knowledge surrouding it.

I'm glad to hear your on a good path and can recognize things that are not "real" and have no business in your reality. As far as stopping the medication I hear this all to often. People either feel they are "better" and decide to stop treatment or feel they do not want to lose their inner voices since some of those voices are "friendly" in a way.

Thanks for the hub it was an interesting read! Keep writing and expressing your feelings I enjoyed reading them as I'm sure have others!


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks Rfordin, all the angst I felt prior to writing that has gone away, especially after reading your nice comment. ;) I hope more people who have schizophrenia are able to open up about it. As for medication, I feel I learned my lesson with my last bad episode. Prior to that I'd felt it wasn't such a big deal. I'm glad I learned my lesson before I did anything irreversible.


CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 4 years ago

Well done, for you to write about it in this way, and explain what your episodes feel like must be a cathartic and strengthening experience. Educating others, such as myself, who have no idea what is involved with schizophrenia can only be a service to others who share this with you. I proud to be following you - stay strong.


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hey thanks! :)


Mario 4 years ago

The way you articulate and thoroughly express your episodes in chronological order, show your cognitive functions are still intact and healthy, I applaud you for that because , I've had a bad episode that lasted over a month and experience decline in thinking and perceiving reality at times.I don't hear voices nor hallucinate but I have experience lethargy and a lack of the natural drive for life and pleasures and also short term memory decline, yet I remain hopefull and inspired by your story and will continue to inform myself to better cope with myself. Thank you for your insight on living with this condition and I hope you stay strong and healthy to win all your battles! If schizophrenia were a beast I'll kill it with a sword!


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

I feel for you. I hope in time you're able to feel strong inside and think better. Make sure you get your rest. When I don't sleep things can get worse. Medication also helps me. Best wishes to you.


Kathryn 4 years ago

Very proud of you sis!


Gleda 4 years ago

Thanks for your Excellent description of being Schizophrenic. In a lot of ways, many "Normal" people do all this internal dialogue which keeps them going thru the day and solving problems. With, Schizophrenic mind it goes a little too far to detach you from functioning. I have a brother that is schizophrenic but now takes his medication and functions well in life. Peace Love and Grace


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks Gleda and Kathy.


RitaPita 4 years ago

Well written article about a real life challenge -- giving hope to people struggling with this disorder.

It took a lot of courage to write with such candor. Were proud of you.

Love Mom and Dad


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thank you! Love C.


janesix profile image

janesix 4 years ago

I am bipolar, I've had all the symptoms sometime or other, so I kind of know what it's like. And it's not always bad,either:)


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

I would agree. Thanks for stopping by janesix.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Well, I told you I'd be eager to read your topics and wouldn't you know this would be the very first one...I've worked with many schizophrenics in my career, and it is one of the most enjoyable groups of people I've worked with. Of course, it isn't any fun when things do turn violent, which they do sometimes in the hospital, but for the most part I have always had a great deal of respect for this particular group of people, as well as intrigue. I have also been able to have an easy rapport with schizophrenic patients more so than some of the other diagnosis.

I applaud your courage to bring this into the light by sharing your story. I am very curious as to what your age is and how old you were when your first break occurred. You don't have to share this info with me if you don't want to...or you can email me the info privately. Many schizophrenics fall into an age category for their first break and I was just wondering if you were part of that group.

Your description, as one who has experienced and come through this with enough clear cognition, is amazing. It defies description, yet you have quite nicely explained it in ways that one who does not experience it can relate to in some small way.

Schizophrenia is a difficult mental health issue that needs ongoing attention and vigilance for signs of slipping out of the 'health' end of the spectrum and sliding back towards the 'illness' end of it and you seem to have managed to make the 'aha' moment count. Good for you.

I have a high school friend who is schizophrenic and after a couple of hospitalizations and the right medication and ongoing treatment on an outpatient basis, is high functioning and doing well. I stayed with him for a month in California and during that time we would talk about various things. At some points when I would start a conversation about spiritual issues, meditation and 'the spaciousness of consciousness' he stopped engaging and told me he couldn't 'explore' that subject b/c it was a dangerous area for his mind to trip up in. I respected that. I am glad he 'knows' himself enough to apply boundaries.

I'm very grateful that you brought this subject out because I am a huge advocate for people who are diagnosed with a mental illness. My hope is for more people in the world to understand and treat each other with kindness and compassion.

I find the delusions that you describe here fascinating and am glad to know that you are getting a handle on recognizing the internal voices and maintaining your medications and whatever else helps to connect you with the 'reality' of everyday life and the people you love and who love you.

Rated this hub UP/U/I/B and am sharing. Many Blessings...


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi and thank you. I'm 33 and was diagnosed in my early thirties. I apparently had a later onset of the disease. Thanks for stopping by and for your work with other mental patients. Your friend is lucky to have someone so understanding. I understand what your friend means about spiritual issues and wish him well.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Hi carozy, thanks for the info and yes, your onset is unusual in the age, but as stated in your hub, attributed to the head injury. Best to you.


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks Denise.


meloncauli profile image

meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

Wonderful hub carozy!

We need more people to write about their personal experience with a severe disorder such as this, to spread awareness and dispel the notion that schizophrenics are dangerous and voilent. Keep writing!


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thank you meloncauli :)


gsidley profile image

gsidley 4 years ago from Lancashire, England

An interesting first-person account of your mental health problems.

Psychotic experiences are a central interest of mine (as reflected in some of my own hubs). It is interesting, for example, how common voice-hearing is in the general population (many of whom never come into contact with psychiatric services).

Voted up.


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thank you gsidley. I'm glad there is medication that helps me.


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 3 years ago from Texas

I know it must not have been easy to open up and share about this but I'm so glad that you did. It's interesting to get your personal take on it. Thank goodness that your struggles have gotten easier and that you are doing much better now. Thank you for sharing this :) Voted up, useful and interesting!


carozy profile image

carozy 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thank you, I appreciate your comment Jamie. I'm glad I opened up. :)


idigwebsites profile image

idigwebsites 3 years ago from United States

I really admire your bravery in opening up about your condition. I thought schizophrenics can't think clearly and logically (much less than write about the condition like you do), but you put my preconceptions to rest. I hope and pray you'll win the battle against schizophrenia.

Up and interesting and a following. :)


carozy profile image

carozy 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thank you idigwebsites. Glad my writing helped clear up some of the confusion that's out there.


roojay13 3 years ago

Hi there, I was diagnosed with a paranoid schizo disorder in 2005, although I'd had suffered with it for most of my life. It is such a hard thing to live with if you're not on the right medication, and since I've found the right ones, life has been fantastic and knock n wood there's been no relapses yet. Thanks for writing this and letting people know how difficult a condition it is to live with. ;-)


carozy profile image

carozy 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, I'm glad you are doing well. Good luck.


nighthag profile image

nighthag 3 years ago from Australia

A wonderfully honest hub, touching on the very human side of a very misunderstood disease. . I am so glad to hear that with the right help you have found a healthy happy path to follow. a truly inspiring read!


carozy profile image

carozy 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks nighthag. I appreciate your stopping by and your kind comment.


btrbell profile image

btrbell 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

What a brave and thorough hub! Thank you for following me so that i had a reason to stop by your hubs! I am looking forward to reading more of them! I applaud you and wish you only the best! Up+


carozy profile image

carozy 3 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks btrbell! I appreciate your stopping by.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

carozy....I applaud and appreciate your candor. It is apparent you are doing all the right and beneficial things to assist yourself. I respect your courage and willingness to make the very best of a hand you've been dealt through no fault of your own.

Your positive attitude and awareness makes you a very special individual... Peace, Paula...UP++++


carozy profile image

carozy 2 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks for your kind comment! I appreciate it. :)


Penny G profile image

Penny G 2 years ago from Southern Iowa

This actually was a miracle I found this Hub. I have been dealing with getting my daughter help for so long now. It has been a real struggle getting the help we needed to get her help. The most devastating thing is I have two adult children with this condition, and so many family members have given up hope on them, and I stand alone doing the tough job of none stop paper work, no sleep, phone calls, police, meetings and on and on. Don't get me wrong but I'm so lost in this I needed to hear this very informative truthful Hub. Thank you so much for opening up yourself, your mind, and sharing what so many keep as their best kept secret.


carozy profile image

carozy 2 years ago from San Francisco Author

No problem. I hope things work out well for your family. Part of the reason I got through my denial was I began to see the toll my disease was having on my family and friends. Good luck.


mdscoggins profile image

mdscoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

Thank you Carozy for the depiction of your experiences. Working in the field of mental health and having quite a bit of experience with clients who have schizophrenia ,I have to commend you for your own understanding of schizophrenia. Treatment is not always accessible, understood, or consistent so this population's treatment is many times very difficult to deliver effectively. I am glad you have found a routine and regimen that works for you and your family. Keep up the good work. Voted Up!!


carozy profile image

carozy 2 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thank you, I appreciate your comment. Yes, I seem to be doing OK and I'm glad I had my family and friend's support to get the treatment when I needed it most. Thank you for your work in the field. :)


sparkster profile image

sparkster 10 months ago from United Kingdom

Interesting and insightful, this is something which I've wondered about for a very long time. It's good to hear things from the point of view of someone who has direct first-hand personal experience with it.


carozy profile image

carozy 10 months ago from San Francisco Author

Thank you! I know there are thousands of schizophrenics who are leading "normal" lives, yet no one hears about us. I'm glad you appreciated my article.


sparkster profile image

sparkster 10 months ago from United Kingdom

You know, I'm quite well versed in psychology, psychiatry and the inner workings of the human mind but there's always been something about Schizophrenia which didn't sit right with me. It seems that psychiatric associations were very quick to label it without really ever trying to understand it. Lately, I have been reading a lot about how many academics are now coming to the conclusion that Schizophenia as a mental illness is a myth. There is one such article here: http://www.antipsychiatry.org/schizoph.htm

Ironically, despite my education in psychiatry, psychology and the human mind, I already know that if I went to a psychiatrist and told them about all the things I had experienced in life, I would most likely be diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder and yet I know for a fact that I do not have it and I am probably more qualified than they are to make that judgement!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 10 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Sparkster.....I want to Thank you for the link above. Someone very special to me has recently been "diagnosed" and I am in full forward mode to learn as much as possible (especially in recent publication/discovery) about this (alleged) illness. The more I can get my hands on, the better. Bless you.


carozy profile image

carozy 10 months ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, I plan to read that link when I have more time. Appreciate you stopping by to share your input.

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